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Fountain has always encouraged others, from its staff, partners, and clients, to use its business to make a real positive impact for the planet. Often, it might seem the task in hand (tackling the climate crisis) is overwhelming, or it’s hard to see what difference one company can make. However, if everyone makes a small change/step in the right direction, businesses can achieve great things by working together.

A while ago, I sat down and thought about what changes we can make within the office to not only help with our mission, but support other companies in achieving their goals too. And what better way than source as many supplies as we can from local, sustainable or independent businesses.

Shopping locally means using locally-owned, independent, small businesses in your area, either in person or online, instead of ordering from large corporations like Amazon. It’s these small businesses which make up the backbone of the UK economy, with a whopping 5.5 million of them at the start of 2021.

Taking the first step

The first step in building up a local/sustainable network is auditing what office supplies can be bought locally and researching which companies you would like to work with. The list of small, independent businesses we have in Norwich is endless and I wanted to make sure that if we can buy locally, then we will.

A few of our favourites are:

  • CJ’s Fruit and Veg – a family-run business based on Norwich Market for over 20 years.
  • Strangers Coffee – a multi award-winning coffee shop and roastery in Norwich, using ethically sourced beans and biodegradable packaging.
  • The Feed – A social enterprise with all profits helping people in Norwich facing issues like poverty, hunger and homelessness who we use to cater for client meetings and events.
    And if it’s not on the doorstep?

When it came to listing office supplies that cannot necessarily be sourced locally but can help us to be more sustainable, the obvious ones for me were toilet roll, hand soap and other life essentials.

  • Who Gives A Crap – B Corp certified, bamboo toilet roll company who donate 50% of profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.
  • The Cheeky Panda – Antibac wipes and kitchen roll made from bamboo. They support three charities through donations and fundraising activities.
  • KanKan – Plastic-free hand soap and one tree planted per can sold.
  • TOTM – Plastic-free sanitary products that break down the stigma and shame surrounding periods, while supporting Endometriosis UK.
  • Smol – eco-friendly cleaning products and dishwasher tablets, at a great price.
  • Tony’s Chocolonely – 100% slave-free and amazing tasting branded gifts!

And why is shopping this way a dream?

Shopping this way has definitely made my life easier because of the flexibility you get. With most of the amazing companies we work with, they offer a subscription service, so I never have to worry about setting a reminder to order more hand soap and coming in on a Monday realising we are out of toilet roll!

There are so many benefits to shopping locally – you are not just supporting local businesses, but also the people who run and work at these businesses. This means your purchasing allows for more local jobs now and in the future, and a stronger local community. Small businesses are passionate about the products they sell, so you know the items you’re buying are the best quality and last longer than those which are mass-produced.

And most importantly? People are conscious about their environmental impact – whether trying to limit their single-use plastic, holidaying more ethically or avoiding driving when they can. For this reason, shopping locally and more sustainably is perfectly suited for those being mindful of their environmental impact – you’re helping to cut carbon emissions and air pollution, and there’s less waste and packaging.

Give it a try, you won’t regret it!